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Book Chapter

Metallic ore deposits

By
Victor Maksaev (coordinator)
Victor Maksaev (coordinator)
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Brian Townley
Brian Townley
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Carlos Palacios
Carlos Palacios
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Francisco Camus
Francisco Camus
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Published:
January 01, 2007

Abstract

This chapter describes the metallic ore deposits of Chile, their mineralized host rocks and the processes involved in ore formation, and provides a brief overview of the mining history of this Andean copper-rich country. The ore deposits are ordered according to their respective economic importance. Thus, after mining history and a general introduction, Chilean porphyry copper–molybdenum deposits are described first, with subsequent sections dealing with epithermal precious metals, iron oxide copper–gold and iron oxide–apatite deposits, stratabound copper–(silver) ores, precious metal veins, sedimentary-hosted gold and porphyry gold deposits, skarn rock ores and, finally, an overview of metallogenic evolution.

About 40% of the known copper resources of the world occur in Chile, with the native populations using the red metal at least since 500 BC. Bracelets, earrings and weapons that have been found in archaeological sites in northern Chile were made of either native copper or copper-rich minerals that were melted in small quantities and subsequently hammered. Copper production during Spanish colonial times (1541–1810) amounted to some 80 000–85 000 tons, with high-grade oxidized copper minerals being exploited and melted with charcoal. Despite this mining activity, however, Spaniards regarded copper as ‘plebeian metal’ because of its relatively low value, and it was used mostly as ballast for ships returning to Spain, rather than for technological or industrial purposes. The colonial Spaniards were much more interested in gold and silver, and mining activities were consequently mostly orientated towards precious metals.

Prior to Spanish conquest the Incas dominated northern Chile and had already exploited

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Geological Society, London, Geology of Series

The Geology of Chile

Teresa Moreno
Teresa Moreno
Earth Sciences Institute ‘Jaume Almera’, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Barcelona, Spain
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Wes Gibbons
Wes Gibbons
AP 23075, Barcelona, Spain
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Geological Society of London
ISBN electronic:
9781862393936
Publication date:
January 01, 2007

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